Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

South of The Bridge of Lions in St Augustine is a pristine National Guard Barracks next to a 175-year-old military cemetery. We spent the morning visiting & taking pictures, expecting to have the place all to ourselves. Thankfully, we were joined by several 'visitors' soon after our arrival.

Monday is Memorial Day & there will be the usual poorly-attended services of remembrance held across the nation. Unfortunately, many Americans will regard the day as nothing more than a day off from work. The traditional family get togethers will take place, but lots of folks will never pause to give a 2nd thought to those who served & sacrificed or those currently serving & sacrificing.

The signs describe these pyramids. More than 1400 soldiers are buried beneath them.

This fellow was an amazing patriot. WW1 was absolutely brutal - He returned for WW2!!

Here's a marker (below) for a soldier from The Spanish American War - a war against Spain, approved by Congress at 3AM on April 19th 1898, & formally declared 6 days later in response to the sinking of the US Warship 'Maine'. To avoid war, President McKinley actually tried to buy the island of Cuba from Spain. Can you imagine the quality of life that the Cuban people could have enjoyed had this offer been accepted 111 years ago?

Maybe this soldier charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt (Roosevelt was almost 40 years old at the time - with 6 kids at home! 3 years later, TR became the 26th president of the USA.)

Here's a picture that helps to reinforce my hope for America's future. These kids are members of The Explorers Club - part of the P.A.L. program run by the St John's County Sheriff's Department. They placed flags on every grave. I listened as the Deputy in charge explained the need for quiet decorum, reminding them that "this cemetery is a place of honor". He instructed the kids on how the small flags were to be placed, emphasizing that they could not be allowed to touch the ground. I would guess that the group ranged in age from 10 to 16 & they went about the work quietly, respectfully & efficiently. They were being taught to give something back & they carried out the task as if it was a privilege, not a chore & not a joke. It was one of those choke-back moments for me.

Is Monday going to be just an extra day off? A day for a backyard cookout? Is there enough time in this weekend's busy schedule to honor those that put it all on the line - both past & present? Freedom has always come at a great cost. Acknowledge the sacrifice - take time to say THANKS.